HYDERABAD: Brendon McCullum completed a stylish double-century on Tuesday to help New Zealand draw the second Test against India, leaving the series locked at 0-0 going into the final Test.
McCullum’s career-best 225 helped set an improbable 327-run target for India in the final session as the Kiwis declared at their tea score of 448/8.
Virender Sehwag (54) and Gautam Gambhir (14) were the not out batsmen as India reached 68/0 in its second innings when stumps were called.
New Zealand started the final day only 115 runs ahead with six wickets in hand, giving India hope of pushing for victory if it could take early wickets.
But a resolute McCullum denied the top-ranked Indians, who will go into the final Test in Nagpur desperate for a win to avoid being held to a tied home series by their eighth-ranked opponents.
McCullum justified being promoted as opener for the first time in his Test career during this series, measuring up to both the pace and spin attacks with confidence during a maiden double-ton.
The flamboyant 29-year-old batsman struck 22 fours and four sixes during his nine-hour stay at the wicket, during which he faced 308 deliveries. He got to the 200-run mark with a predetermined scoop to fine-leg off part-time spinner Suresh Raina.
He was not afraid to even jump out to the pace bowlers, although that led to his downfall. After advancing to hit pace bowler Shantakumaran Sreesanth for a four through the mid-off region earlier in the over, he tried to attack him once again, only to scoop up a slower delivery to Raina at mid-on.
McCullum improved upon his previous highest score of 185 against Bangladesh at Hamilton earlier this year.
He was involved in a 124-run stand for the fifth wicket with Kane Williamson which saw the Black Caps through the crucial opening session with ease as India’s bowlers failed to threaten on a perfect batting strip. Williamson, who struck a century on debut in the first Test at Ahmedabad, scored 69 off 146 delivers with nine fours.
The 20-year-old, resuming on 12, was fluent against the seam bowlers and reached his 50 off only 77 deliveries. He could not show the same fluency against the spinners and was trapped lbw by Harbhajan shortly after lunch for 69 off 146 balls, with nine fours.
Williamson had earlier struck Sreesanth for three fours in an over shortly after the second new ball was taken.
Sreesanth and his senior new-ball partner Zaheer Khan, who suffered an abdominal strain and could not bowl for most of Monday, did little to pressure the batsmen on the final day. In fact, the runs flowed more freely after the new ball was taken at 259/4.
India started the series as firm favorite, coming off a home Test series win over Australia while New Zealand arrived off the back of a 4-0 one-day series loss to Bangladesh.
After the final Test, the teams will play a five-match limited-overs series.(AP)